UK owned .EU domains to be cancelled after Brexit

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Just before the Easter Bank Holiday break, the EU decided to drop a Brexit bombshell onto the UK. They have announced that as of Brexit day in a year’s time, UK businesses and people will no longer be able to use .EU Domains for their URLs.

“As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.”
– Digital Single Market, European Commission

What this means for UK businesses and individuals who have a website with a .EU domain is that you’re going to be forced to change your website address. Of course you could use a .CO.UK or .COM address. This will be difficult if someone else has already registered other country domains and you chose a .EU address because the .CO.UK wasn’t available.

What’s even worse is that as of the day the UK leaves the EU, website domains could be cancelled immediately before their renewal date

“Where, as of the withdrawal date and as a result of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a holder of a domain name does no longer fulfil the general eligibility criteria pursuant to Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) 733/2002, the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts in accordance with point (b) of Article 20, first subparagraph, of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004.”
– Digital Single Market, European Commission

There is of course the possibility that the Brexit negotiations will delay the cancellation of .EU domains held by UK companies during the proposed transition period. It would however seem pretty certain that by the end of the transition period at the latest that UK companies and individuals will lose any .EU domains that they have registered.

Cybersquatting concerns

It’s quite possible that some businesses may have registered a .EU domain to prevent cybersquatting and passing off. If you can’t keep your .EU domain, even if it’s not used as your main website URL, then it will be openly available for anyone else including your competitors to register.

The EU go even further specifically unrecognising the rights of UK businesses and individuals saying “As of the withdrawal date, rights recognised or established by the United Kingdom, but not by EU-27 Member States or by the Union, can no longer be invoked”. This means UK businesses and individuals won’t be allowed to block others registering a .EU domain using their name.

Quite how important it is to protect a .EU domain is hard to judge. There are so many TLDs available that it would cost a small fortune to register each and every one to in an attempt to protect your company. The big advantage of a .EU domain is that it signifies a willingness to trade within the EU.

Can you keep your .EU domain after Brexit?

It would appear that the only way you would be able to keep your .EU domain is to be a registered business or individual based within the EU. This would appear an onerous proposition for most people as it would doubtless require an address within the EU and for businesses a registered business within the EU.

6 Responses

  1. If true, it may be a literal interpretation of some rule they have written for themselves, but it seems to be a deliberately spiteful and disruptive move, and a clear warning that the EU’s attitude towards British businesses after Brexit could be hostile in the extreme.

    It would be nice to think that our government would have a reciprocal approach and state that any .co.uk or .uk domains held by European-owned businesses masquerading as British will be cancelled. Perhaps then some common sense would break out and something less hostile could be negotiated to the benefit of both sides.

  2. I can understand registering after Brexit day… to a degree, but to take a swipe at those already registered is quite simply childish and pointless. Not alot you can add really…
    Next stop all those number plates with eU flags on them… wouldn’t suprise me.

  3. Agree with first reply cancel all European registrations of of co.uk domains..eu was always a sad git version anyway.

  4. The same could be said for all those in Europe with a co.uk domain. But all this is pointless, and most likely will never happen anyway.

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